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January is a time for many people to cut back on an excess of Christmas food and drink.

In the UK, a popular way to attempt this for one month is through a vegan diet, hence Veganuary.

This year, despite the economic vagaries of coronavirus, meat consumption actually rose:

On March 4, 2021, FarmingUK reported that January sales of red meat and dairy was up compared with the same month last year. In fact, meat sales have risen throughout the pandemic (emphases mine below):

Latest Kantar data shows overall volume sales of red meat were up 15 percent and almost 12 percent for dairy, compared with January 2020.

Red meat and dairy retail sales have seen solid growth since Covid-19 restrictions began last March, with shoppers buying more through retail than pre-Covid.

Over the last quarter, growth across all red meat and dairy has been stronger than overall grocery growth at 10 percent.

Primary red meat volume has seen an 18% increase, with mince driving much of the growth within beef, along with burgers and steaks, but shoppers have also brought traditional roasting joints back to the table.

The seasonal lockdown has also led to more shoppers buying primary red meat, with increased household penetration at 83 percent, Kantar figures show …

Rebecca Miah, AHDB’s Strategy Director for beef and lamb, said the red meat and dairy sectors had an excellent start to the New Year.

“[They] reflect how highly valued red meat and dairy are to consumers,” she explained.

“While alternatives show growth from a small base, these are mostly complimentary additional purchases driven by interest and variety, rather than a move away from real meat and dairy consumption.”

That’s great news for our farmers.

Christophe Pelletier, a Canadian who studies food trends, says that increased meat and dairy consumption has also been observed in other countries:

Pelletier retweeted this thread about a University of Kansas study showing that Americans preferred beef to veggie burgers:

On March 3, the university posted an article on the subject, ‘Study: consumers favor ground beef over plant-based alternatives’.

An excerpt follows:

Ground beef – offered with 10%, 20% and 30% fat — was strongly preferred for taste and flavor over plant-based alternatives, and less than one-third of the respondents said they would buy the plant-based alternatives in the store or retail settings, according to K-State meat scientist Travis O’Quinn.

“The results are pretty stark,” O’Quinn said. “Our three ground beef products were highly desired by consumers. We didn’t witness many differences among the three fat levels we offered, but when we compared those to the ground beef alternatives, every one of the alternatives had a tendency to fall out (of favorability with consumers).”

Consumers rated the plant-based alternatives as “extremely dry,” according to O’Quinn, and rated those products “very low” for flavor. In one test, only 18% of the consumers said they would be willing to buy the plant-based ground beef alternative.

O’Quinn said the researchers tested ground beef alternatives designed for retail and food service use, and another consisting of a traditional soy protein base.

It’s great to read that consumers are voting with their pocketbooks in favour of meat.

For too long now, we have been bombarded with anti-meat propaganda such as this:

The truth is that many people’s health has improved because they eat meat:

Perhaps that is why we are being ‘nudged’ away from it: less money for Big Pharma’s coffers.

Instead, we are told that meat harms our health and is responsible for pandemics:

The World Economic Forum (WEF) that meets at Davos every year insists we switch to a plant-based diet. One wonders if the bigwigs at the WEF have a plant-based diet?

The WEF works closely with the UN on food issues.

Smaller farmers are pushed out of the picture in favour of multinationals:

Yet, production of fruit and vegetables is not always kind to the environment. What about avocado production that is harming wildlife in Africa? The tweet about growing avocados is tongue-in-cheek but the effect on elephants and other native species is real:

What about this plastic monstrosity for fruit and veg in Spain? Immigrants from North Africa make up the bulk of the workers:

The Netherlands can do the same more sustainably:

There are better ways of growing crops and rearing meat. They are being implemented right now.

Here is an integrated farm of wheat and cattle. The cattle fertilise the wheat naturally. Some of the grain harvest is for them. The rest is used for consumer foods:

Smaller growers in the US and in France have been adopting this method, too.

I have seen two documentaries over the past couple of years on farming that uses an ecosystem.

One was with an American cheese maker who grows his own crops to feed the cows but also has other farm animals to keep the soil in balance.

Last week, I saw another, featuring a Frenchman who grows vegetables. He, too, has a variety of farm animals, including cows, which achieve the same objective.

And, yes, there are perfectly natural ways to reduce methane from cattle — grass grazing or a seaweed supplement:

Conclusion: the future of agriculture is hardly as bleak as we are told. Farmers are thinking out of the box — and very successfully.

The future of meat is positive — and is here to stay.

Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, posted this short YouTube video on Sunday, January 13, 2019:

It is all about the effect of the Left on state education in Brazil.

Interestingly, state education in Brazil is in the same doldrums as it is in Western nations.

I urge everyone — parent or not — to please watch this short video. At the end, he explains why he is wearing a Japan football (soccer) shirt:

In Japan, kids with six/seven years of age can solve math problems our college students CAN’T.

Bolsonaro says that leftist educators emphasise topics — sexual identity — that really should not be part of the school curriculum. He points out that the topic showed up in Brazil’s national high school examination.

He says that it is high time to return to the three Rs so that people can learn to get themselves out of welfare, poverty and misery.

Tropical Trump, as he is popularly known, speaks the truth.

In our household, we drink only bold — strong — coffee.

We are always in search of a cup of coffee that brings the best in flavour and richness.

Below is a review of my favourite and least favourite cups from around the world.

All are ground coffees, bar one, as mentioned below.


Coffee from Brazil as sold in Brazil is arguably the world’s best.

If you have friends or colleagues visiting you from Brazil, ask them to pick up a 500g bag or two for you.

1st place: Cafe Pele Extra Forte from Brasfood in São Paulo. There is no better, bolder taste than this, especially with its mocha overtones. It’s a dark, rich, smooth cup with a wonderfully earthy scent. You can imagine yourself on the coffee plantation as you drink it.

2nd place: Cafe Bom Dia Extra Forte from Cafe Bom Dia Ltda in Rodovia. Bom Dia means ‘Good Morning’. This is nearly as good as Cafe Pele Extra Forte, with all of the same taste and olfactory characteristics.

United Kingdom

It might seem surprising to find the UK so highly placed, but Tesco, based in Welwyn Garden City, have my third and fourth favourites. Well done to my favourite supermarket chain!

3rd place: Tesco French Blend Ground Coffee (strength 5). This is the best in ‘continental’ bold blends, which will remind you of languorous afternoons on a sun-dappled café terrace in France. It has an authentic strength and flavour, like old fashioned French coffees used to have. This is up there on a Nescafe Ristretto scale.

4th place: Tesco Italian Blend Ground Coffee (strength 4). Despite it being a notch lower in strength, you can’t really tell the difference. An excellent substitute for the French Blend, both of which make a delightful breakfast brew.

United States

5th place: French Roast (Dark Roast) from Keurig Green Mountain Inc., in Waterbury, Vermont. The pack I have, from the former Green Mountain Coffee company, says:

Our very darkest roast.

A continental tradition that’s smoky and sweet.

This tastes like a cross between my 1st through 4th place choices, including lovely hints of chocolate that make getting up in the morning worthwhile.

That concludes my list of favourites.

The next section is about coffee disappointments for drinkers of bold coffee. No rankings, no particular order.

United Kingdom

Café Direct Intense Roast (strength 5). This got me excited, because the description reads:

A dark roast for a richer drinking experience.

It did not taste intense, nor was it a rich tasting coffee. Too much robusta and not enough Arabica, perhaps?

Taylor’s of Harrogate Brasilia (strength 4). This is very mild compared with the extra fortes from Brazil. The packet reads:

A lively, lush roast.

Not so for us. It tasted very light, like a medium roast.


French coffee seems to be getting weaker. I’ve been drinking it off and on since 1999 and what used to be reliably bold blends seem milder now, especially Café Grand’Mère Dégustation, described as being ‘riche en Arabica‘. Au revoir à Café Grand’Mère!

There are other coffees we’ve bought in France which aren’t nearly as bold as suggested:

Casino’s Michel Troisgros Espresso (Casino Délices, beans only) is hardly espresso strength, despite the packaging’s claim of ‘intense et sauvage‘. I should have looked on the side panel, which shows a medium rating of three coffee cups and medium roasting. Hmm.

Lobodis Éthiopie is 100% Arabica, but it has a very mild flavour. We thought that the ‘8’ on the packet meant it was strong, however, the strongest coffee is 12 (Sumatra).

In France, we now know to look on the side of the packet on our next trip to get the right strength!

In closing, it just goes to show how much coffee tasting one has to do to find a good, bold cup.

Yesterday’s entry reprised part of my 2013 posts on the history of the early French Protestants, known as the Huguenots — worth reading before continuing.

To escape persecution in their home country and open up new trading posts, the most enterprising Huguenots sailed for the New World in the 16th century. They settled parts of it before the Portuguese and the English took over.

You can read more about their intrepid journeys and experiences at the links below:

The Huguenots in 16th century St Kitts

The Huguenot settlements in 16th century Brazil

The Huguenot settlement in 16th century South Carolina

The Huguenots in sixteenth-century Florida

Tomorrow’s post features more about those who stayed behind in France.

In my post on La Rochelle, I mentioned that the Huguenot leader Admiral Coligny urged his co-religionists to travel to Brazil with a view to religious refuge and developing trade.

What follows is the story of what was then known as France Antarctique. The map from the first trip in 1555 (courtesy of Wikipedia) shows Guanabara Bay — already named Rio Janeiro. This is where Rio de Janeiro is today.

File:Rio 1555 França Antártica.jpg


Gaspard (Caspar) II de Coligny — to give him his full name — came from an old and influential line of noblemen in Burgundy. They had been in direct service to French kings since the Middle Ages, often distinguishing themselves in battle. They also had a distinguished bloodline which carried through to every European royal family today (emphases mine):

Coligny is directly descended from notable individuals such as Alfred the Great, Rollo the Viking, William the Conqueror, Hugh Capet and various Kings of England, Kings of France, Counts of Savoy and crusaders.

Through Gaspard’s daughter Louise de Coligny the Princess of Orange, fourth wife of William I, Prince of Orange, Gaspard is the progenitor of a line of Princes of Orange, Kings and Queens of the Netherlands

The inheritors of former thrones such as the Russian monarchy are also directly descended from Coligny, including notable individuals such as the Tsars of Russia Alexander III and Nicholas II. Coligny is the ancestor of King William III of England, Frederick the Great and the present British Royal Family also directly descends from him.

Every monarchy in Europe currently has Coligny’s blood embodied on its throne.[1]

By the 1550s, a number of French noble families and members of the merchant class had converted to Calvinism. Coligny was among them, influenced by his brother d’Androt. Tensions were beginning to build between Catholics and Protestants.

Coligny sought to protect his fellow Protestants whilst doing something productive for France. Therefore, he proposed to King Henry II an expedition to Brazil with a view to settlement.

Yes, the Portuguese had discovered it in 1500, but, having settled some of the northern coastline, they had not yet fully colonised this expansive territory. This left the south coast open to the French. French traders from Dieppe and Saint-Malo had already been trading in the territory with the Indian tribes since the late 15th century.

Coligny’s commercial objective was to expand the French trade in Brazil wood — Pau-Brasil (now endangered) — highly prized for its durability and its red dye. He also hoped to find precious stones and metals, which earlier explorers believed existed.

Henry II was eager to develop what came to be known during that time as France Antartique. This also had the added benefit of getting rid of Huguenots by sending them far, far away.

Whether French trade in Brazil should have been expanded is questionable; some historians say that the Papal Bull of 1493 and the subsequent Treaty of Torsedillas forbade it.

First colonisation, 1555

Henry II provided the fleet of ships for Coligny’s first expedition. Coligny himself did not go, but was the patron for this trip and the second. He enlisted the services of his naval colleague Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon (or Villegagnon) to captain the fleet.

In 1555, Villegagnon set sail with two ships carrying 600 colonists and soldiers. Although Catholics were among that number, most were Huguenots, some from La Rochelle as well as Geneva. They arrived in Guanabara Bay and settled on the island of Serigipe. There, they erected a fort which they named for their patron Coligny. The island itself was renamed Villegagnon. Today, Villegagnon Island is home to the Brazilian Naval School. Villegagnon named a coastal village Henriville in honour of Henry II.

Villegagnon carefully positioned himself as an ally to the native tribes, the Tamoio and Tupinambá, who had been fighting the Portuguese. The Portuguese hardly noticed the French colony, strategically positioned to fight off any attacks.

Second fleet, 1557

In 1556, Villegagnon sent one of his ships back to France with petitions for another fleet with more colonists. His petitions were addressed to Admiral Coligny, Henry II and, possibly, John Calvin.

Henry II quickly responded with three ships. They were under the command of one of Villegagnon’s nephews, Sieur De Bois le Comte.

Coligny organised the people who would accompany him. Three hundred colonists went. John Calvin sent 14 Genevans, including the theologian Pierre Richier, under the leadership of Philippe de Corguilleray. Corguilleray was a Burgundian nobleman enjoying retirement outside of Geneva. The Genevans asked him to lead their group. Among the other passengers were, curiously, five women who were engaged to be married and ten boys who would be trained as translators.

Fascination — and tension — in the camp

Another notable Huguenot and Burgundian was Jean de Léry, who wrote about his experience when he returned to France several years later.

His History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil, Also Called America (1578) described the fascination and hardship the colonists endured. His Wikipedia entry tells us (emphases mine):

Throughout this book, Léry describes his fascinating voyage across the Atlantic to Brazil. On the way he encounters never before seen ocean wildlife that foreshadows many more discoveries to follow. While on the ship he and his men develop new skills of judging and navigating the winds, stars, currents, and tides. Upon arrival, Léry and his men are exposed to what seems to be an entirely new world. Throughout … the crew encounters a wide variety of people in an area not yet affected by European colonization. With the main goals set at Protestant Reformation, these men face many more challenges than expected, however make discoveries and encounter new things beyond their wildest dreams. [2]

The settlers appear to have made friends with the tribes. There were no forced conversions or hostilities.

Although most of the colonists were Calvinist, there were also Catholics. Villegagnon was himself a Catholic with Calvinist sympathies. The French had a difficult time categorising him. The Austrian author Stefan Zweig wrote a book in 1941 called Brazil, Land of the Future. In it, he described Villegagnon:

Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon, half pirate, half scientist, a dubious but attractive figure, is a typical product of the Renaissance (…) He has been brilliant in war and a dilettante in the arts. He has been praised by Ronsard and feared by the Court, because his character is incalculable. Hating any regular occupation, despising the most enviable positions and the highest honours, his volatile spirit prefers to be free to indulge unhampered its fantastic moods. The Huguenots believe he is a Catholic and the Catholics believe he’s a Huguenot. Nobody knows which side he is serving, and he himself probably doesn’t know much more than that he wants to do something big, something different from anyone else, something wild and daring, something romantic and extraordinary.

With a mix of Huguenots and Catholics at Fort Coligny on Villegagnon Island, it wasn’t long before tensions arose in the camp. Religion was a frequent topic of conversation, understandably. Combine that with Villegagnon’s mercurial personality, and arguments erupted frequently. These eventually divided the settlers into factions.

Jean de Cointac was a Dominican friar who became a Calvinist. He was among the men who arrived in 1557. Having studied at the Sorbonne, he attracted Villegagnon’s interest as an excellent debater. The two had intense discussions about Christianity. Over time, they devised their own doctrine which denounced both Catholicism and Calvinism. Villegagnon came to believe that Calvin was an arch-enemy of the Church. Later on, he and Cointac disagreed with each other to the extent that they became enemies.

The Guanabara Confession of Faith, 1558

The religious disagreements, especially about the nature of Holy Communion, swung Villegagnon into high gear. He expelled Cointac from the island.

He also took exception to the Huguenot settlers Jean du Bourdel, Matthieu Verneuil, Pierre Bourdon and André la Fon, arresting them.

He gave the four just time enough to write the first Protestant confession of the New World before hanging them.

This document is the Guanabara Confession of Faith. As I write, it is being translated from Portuguese to English, which accounts for the blank space on the Wikipedia page.

The Guanabara Confession of Faith is clearly Calvinist, drawing heavily on the New Testament and St Augustine. This is Article VIII:

VIII. The holy sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is not food for the body as it is to the souls (because we realize nothing fleshly, as we declare in the fifth article) receiving by faith, which is not fleshly.

In October 1557, Villegagnon expelled the Calvinists from his island. They went to live peaceably among the Tupinambá for four months. However, life was hard and unsuitable for the long term.

In January 1558, nearly all the surviving Huguenots sailed back to France with Jean de Léry.

Five others returned to Fort Coligny where Villegagnon wasted no time in drowning them because they refused to recant their religious beliefs.

Defeated by the Portuguese, 1560

In 1560, the Portuguese government ordered the Governor General of Brazil Mem de Sá to expel the French.

Although he and his men — 2,000 troops on 26 ships — destroyed Fort Coligny within three days, many of the French escaped to the mainland to live and work among the Indians.

Jean de Cointac — the man with whom Villegagnon developed a new religious doctrine — was so angry with him that he and Jacques Le Balleur, who had also fallen out with the leader, gave the Portuguese information about the settlement, enabling them to attack it. A century later, the Portuguese built a new fort on the island.

Afterward, two Portuguese Jesuits made friends with the indigenous Tamoios, resolving prior hostilities. Mem de Sá later gave the order for his nephew Estácio to get rid of the French once and for all. Estácio de Sá founded the city of Rio de Janeiro in 1565 and launched attacks on the French. It would take two more years before they were finally defeated.

What happened next

The French made sporadic attempts to colonise Brazil over the next 140 years, including Rio de Janeiro. One of these new attempts was called France Équinoxiale. Ultimately, all were unsuccessful.

Villegagnon astutely fled his island before the Portuguese invasion of 1560. He said the religious arguments drove him back to France. That same year, he challenged John Calvin to a debate on the nature of the Eucharist; Calvin declined.

To ensure that Villegagnon would not return to Brazil, the Portuguese Crown gave him a handsome sum of money, which he accepted.

In 1561, the theologian from Geneva who was on the first voyage to Brazil — Pierre Richier — wrote a pamphlet denouncing Villegagnon’s behaviour on the island. He had returned to France in 1558 and became the notable Minister of the Church in La Rochelle. He helped to make the city a centre for Calvinist belief.

In 1569, Villegagnon wrote another treatise on the Eucharist, denouncing Calvinism. Two years later he became a Commander of the Order of Malta in Beauvais. He died there later that year, aged 60.

In 1572, a Catholic from the first expedition, André Thevet, wrote a denunciation of the Huguenots in Villegagnon’s colony.

Jean de Léry‘s response to this was his book, History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil, Also Called America (1578). Once he returned to France, de Léry was never the same. On the positive side, he became a Calvinist pastor. On the other hand, his marriage was an unhappy one. He also led a group of Huguenots during the Siege of Sancerre, saying that his time in Brazil enabled him to make do with little. He taught his men how to endure hardship during a time of persecution.

Fortunately, this story of French colonisation has not been forgotten, even today. A French-Portuguese-Brazilian television series called Rouge Brésil/Vermelho Brasil (Red Brazil) aired in 2012. Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard played Villegagnon.

Next time: The Huguenots in St Kitts

Pope Francis flew back to Rome from Rio last weekend after the recent successful World Youth Days, a pilgrimage for young Catholics which dates back to 1984. It was started by John Paul II.

I knew a youth group leader who attended the 1993 session in Denver. She said that, although they were tiring, it was a powerful time spiritually. Her group appreciated attending, despite the crowds, queues and campsite conditions. Seeing John Paul II was important to them, especially participating in the Mass he said.

This year’s theme was taken from the New Testament verse Matthew 28:19: Go and Make Disciples of All Nations. Pope Francis said he left with ‘a heart full of many happy memories’.

Not surprisingly, many young Catholics look forward to participating in one of these events if they can. Le Monde interviewed several of this year’s attendees which numbered in the hundreds of thousands with more attending certain events between July 23 and 28.

One young Uruguayan, Frederica, told the journalist:

It’s very difficult being Catholic today. Spiritual life is in the process of dying in our society. Many in my family and among my friends say that it is boring or stupid to believe in God. I have a hard time talking [to them] about my values, founded on respect for others and myself. 

She also deplored the

violence in society today.

However, others experienced their Catholicism differently. A group from Nantes told Le Monde that they were ‘proud’ to be

happy, open and engaged Catholics.

One young woman added:

They made fun of me in school but, now, people are more curious.

Generally speaking, these pilgrims are prayerful and devout, valuing marriage, children and honest work.

Meanwhile, the Pope has been in place for a few months now. His anti-poverty messages are well-received, judging by the fact that his Twitter subscribers now outnumber those of the Dalai Lama’s. He keeps the traditionalists happy by saying a private Mass daily at 7 a.m. Yet, it was during one of these Masses that he expressed his wish to ‘change the structures’ of the Church. (For the moment, however, that does not include women’s ordination.)

On the flight back to Rome from Rio, he said that he disapproved of sexual lobbying groups but added:

If a person is gay and seeks the Lord in good faith, who am I to judge?

I have yet to see a Vatican ID card on which the word ‘gay’ is written … The catechism of the Catholic Church says that we mustn’t marginalise people who should be integrated into society.

Yes, certainly.

However, there is a fine line between that and ‘celebrating’ sexual orientation with associated sin. It is a subject which worries orthodox Protestants as they see their relativist churchmen making excuses for what the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) — and Christ — condemn.

More from a Protestant viewpoint tomorrow.

By the way, the French site l’Internaute had a survey asking whether the Pope would be able to ‘change the discourse on homosexuality in the Catholic Church’. As I write this post at the end of July, 45.9% said no, 42.5% said yes and 11.7% were undecided.

The saddest times to read about death — for me, anyway — are at Christmas and Easter, especially at Easter, which has long been my favourite religious feast day.

On April 16, 2012, news emerged that a two-year old girl’s mother died in Australia around Easter. It appears there were only the two of them, and that the little mite survived on Easter eggs until a pastor gained entry to their home after a neighbour, a nun, became concerned. The mother seemed to have ongoing health problems and a nearby resident said:

She was a wonderful mother, no one had any problems from her, she loved her daughter with all her heart.

Let’s pray that her little girl is placed in an equally loving home and has a stable life.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, the Telegraph reported that an actor playing the role of Judas in a Passion play on Good Friday died of cerebral anorexia:

Tiago Klimeck, 27, had been in a coma since the accident on Good Friday earlier this month in Itarare. Klimeck was enacting the suicide of Judas during the performance. He was hanging for four minutes before fellow actors realised something was wrong, believing he was playing his role. When he was taken down, Klimeck was unconscious. Scans found that the incident had caused cerebral anoxia due to the complete lack of oxygen to the brain. His life support machine was switched off on Sunday. An autopsy was due to take place yesterday.

Police are examining the security apparatus that was meant to support Klimeck during the scene.

It is unclear if any charges will be filed.

The Passion of Christ is performed every year in Brazil across the country. The biggest show is in Pernambuco, where thousands of visitors watch more than 500 actors on nine separate stages.

Yahoo!UK news has more:

Reports suggest that the harness had been lent to the theatre company from a local fire department and Klimeck was not supervised because he had used the equipment before.

Klimeck was said to have got material from his clothes caught on the harness cord when he jumped from a ladder during the scene.

Janaina Carvalho, a member of the theatre group, explained: “I started talking to Tiago and asked him to help us to take the rope.

“When I realised he did not answer, I and other actors call for help.”

There was no information about Mr Klimeck’s religious beliefs, just that his funeral had now taken place.

Klimeck and his fellow actors had been part of a production of Passion of the Christ, a powerful script. During Mel Gibson’s filming several years ago, I read a few interviews where the cast, largely unbelievers except for the actor playing Jesus, often had in-depth discussions after dinner about Christ and faith — and that was after Mel had left the table. If I remember rightly, the actor who played Barabbas became a Christian afterward.

No one was left untouched during the filming. Some weird things also happened. The sound man — an agnostic — often had problems getting the audio effects right. Weird noises regularly interrupted his work. He said that at one point he became so frustrated that he shouted at the Devil to stop. He was surprised to find that his rebuke worked. He had no further problems.

More on Mel Gibson tomorrow.

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